All-or-nothing thinking is when you see things as only black or white and either-or. For example, if you make a mistake while giving a speech, you think you are a total failure; or if a friend acts distant on the telephone, you believe he or she doesn’t like you anymore.
Labeling is an extension of all-or-nothing thinking. When you make a mistake, instead of accepting that you made an error, you label yourself an idiot. If your girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with you, instead of realizing that he or she doesn’t love you, you call yourself unlovable.
Overgeneralizing is basing conclusions on isolated events, then applying them across diverse situations. If you spill a soda, you think, “I’m always a klutz.” If you can’t think of something to say when introduced to someone new, you think, “I never make a good impression.” The tip-off to this type of thinking is use of the word “always” or “never.”
Mental filtering is when you remember and dwell on only the negative elements of an event. For instance, after a party, you remember the awkward pauses in conversations, feeling uncomfortable, and forgetting people’s names, while you forget all moments when you had good conversations, introduced yourself to someone new, and when someone paid you a compliment.
Discounting the positive is somewhat related to mental filtering. It is when you do something well, such as give a good speech, but make excuses like “It doesn’t count” or “Anyone could have done it” and feel the accomplishment wasn’t good enough.
Jumping to conclusions is making negative interpretations about events when there is no evidence to support them. There are generally two forms of jumping to conclusions. In “mind reading,” you believe that someone is reacting negatively to you without checking it out. For instance, if two people stop their conversation when you walk up to them, you assume that they were gossiping about you. In “fortune telling,” you anticipate that things will turn out badly. If you fear taking tests, for example, you always feel that you will fail, even before you start the test.
Magnification is exaggerating the importance of problems. For instance, if you don’t do well on a test, you believe you are going to fail the entire semester.
Emotional reasoning is when you mistake your emotions for reality. For example, you feel lonely; therefore, you think no one likes you.
”Should” and “shouldn’t” statements are ways of thinking that make you feel that you are never good enough. Even though you do well on a job interview, you think, “I should have said this,” or “I shouldn’t have said that.” Other words that indicate this type of thinking are “ought to” and “have to.”
Personalizing the blame is holding yourself responsible for things beyond your control. For instance, you are on your way to study with a group of classmates and you get stuck in traffic. Instead of realizing and accepting that the traffic problem is out of your control, you think you are irresponsible because you are going to be late.